When you first pick up Unsung and flip through its pages, the aesthetically published monochromatic manual gives you the feel of a coffee-table book. Every page is adorned with real life pictures clicked by photojournalist Mahesh Bhat and stories written by journalist Anita Pratap.
The pictures are nothing short of beautiful, each narrating a story on their own. The book cover says it is a tribute to ordinary Indian citizens who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of people around them. It leaves the reader wondering what lies in these pictures.
As you read on, you are taken through the stories of nine laymen from different parts of India. All nine with a story worth telling–stories that will inspire you and make you question the very purpose of your life. The book brings to the fore, not stories of celebrities or renown people, but stories of the ‘unsung’. Each story with a protagonist as real as you and I.
Take the story of Chewang Norphel, who has built artificial glaciers in Leh or George Pulikuthiyil, who has been fighting for the protection of human rights or Subhashini Mistry, who fulfilled her dream of building a hospital for the poor–all because Mistry lost her husband as she couldn’t afford his treatment.
Norphel, Pulikuthiyil, Mistry and others in Unsung are not people who have it all, they have not graduated with honours, they hail from the middle or the lower strata of society. Nevertheless, they have made an impact in their own way. This being their vision, they have made it achievable through sheer determination, commitment and selfless dedication. Things did come easy to these unsung heroes, they had to fight the administration, governance and even society when needed. Unsung gives you hope that things could change. It also highlights how this change could begin from us. If we set our minds and decide to make a difference, it is not an impossible pursuit.
Unsung is 98 pages of inspiration to every person who is willing to make a difference. The Pratap-Bhat duo have picked out nine jewels from a country of over 1.3 billion, each of them having achieved what we find difficult to fathom sitting comfortably in our plush homes. Pratap has descriptively put down the stories while Bhat’s pictures make you feel like you have seen their pursuit to success unfold in a monochromatic film.
When I closed the book, I was left with a sense of motivation to be a better citizen. Each story being so powerful, I was left questioning if I had ever done anything redeeming in my life. It made me realise how I and the people around me are so numb to the happenings around. We accept the state we are in and the way our society is without once realising we could be the revolution we need. The book is a short stirring piece of art that I would recommend to everyone looking for inspiration and every one with a vision to make a change.